Persistence and Availability of Web Services in Computational Biology

PLoS ONE, September 2011, Volume 6, Issue 9, e24914

Publié le 31 mai 2012, par Thérèse Hameau


We have conducted a study on the long-term availability of bioinformatics Web services : an observation of 927 Web services published in the annual Nucleic Acids Research Web Server Issues between 2003 and 2009.

We found that 72% of Web sites are still available at the published addresses, only 9% of services are completely unavailable. Older addresses often redirect to new pages. We checked the functionality of all available services : for 33%, we could not test functionality because there was no example data or a related problem ; 13% were truly no longer working as expected ; we could positively confirm functionality only for 45% of all services.

Additionally, we conducted a survey among 872 Web Server Issue corresponding authors ; 274 replied. 78% of all respondents indicate their services have been developed solely by students and researchers without a permanent position. Consequently, these services are in danger of falling into disrepair after the original developers move to another institution, and indeed, for 24% of services, there is no plan for maintenance, according to the respondents.